An arrow tattoo can be sweet and petite, or epic and larger than life.
Arrows have become popular for mini tats and single line tattoos.
They’re usually a minimalist design, but can be incorporated into larger more intricate pieces as well.
An arrow is something simple and readable that can be cute as a subtle finger tattoo or part of a larger mythological motif.
Portraits of archers are an especially powerful choice.
In most cultures, arrows have become more symbolic than anything else.
Not many people are using them as tools in modern-day.
But for a long time in history, they were a reliable way for skilled hunters to put food on the table.
Because of this, they’ve become a motif in myth, folklore, and even astrology.
If you’ve been thinking of getting an arrow tattoo, but aren’t sure where to start, you’ve come to the right place.
In this article, we are going to discuss:
- Arrow Tattoo Symbolism
- Celebrities with Arrow Tattoos
- Arrow Mythology & Folklore
- Arrows/Archery in Pop Culture
- Common Arrow Tattoo Designs
Arrow Tattoo Symbolism
As we move through this article, you will find several amazing ideas for your arrow tattoo, each with its own significance.
Many cultures have their own interpretation of the arrow design, but, as with anything, there is some overlap.
Let’s break down some of the key symbolism behind arrow tattoos before diving further.
An arrow tattoo may symbolize:
- Strength/great reflexes
- Moving through difficult times
- Using tension to propel forward
- A warrior spirit
- Setting goals
- Making alliances
Of course, there are a lot of factors that go into an arrow tattoo and its meaning.
You’ll have to consider style, placement, and what the design means to you personally.
Let’s break down some iconic arrow designs, and what they mean to the people who wear them!
Celebrities With Arrow Tattoos
Tattoos are all the rage in show business, especially micro designs.
While it used to be a big no-no for performers, especially actors, to have tattoos- more and more of Hollywood’s elite are rebelling.
After all, part of being an actor is being an artist, and the artist will always yearn to express themselves and their individuality.
An arrow tattoo is popular among celebrities because it is rich in artistic symbolism, and because it works for a simplistic design.
Smaller, simple tattoos are easy to cover with makeup if an actor has to become a different person on set.
Here are some of our favorite celebrity tattoos:
One of the reasons why fans connect with this star from Riverdale and Hustlers is her ability to be candid about difficult subject matter.
Reinhart is open about her struggles with depression and anxiety.
Before landing her role in Riverdale, she had moved to Los Angeles to pursue acting full time.
Feeling overwhelmed, her mental health issues kept her from getting farther in her career.
Before going home to take some time off, she visited Dr. Woo, an artist known for tattooing famous bodies.
Reinhart chose an arrow because it uses tension to propel itself forward.
It has to be pulled back before soaring into the air, a symbol that sometimes what feels like a setback can be exactly what you need.
Turns out, the arrow (a simple design on her forearm) was a perfect tattoo for the young rising star.
She took time to rest and heal from her anxiety, then returned to Los Angeles stronger than ever before.
She auditioned for Riverdale and landed it, propelling her into stardom.
An interesting tidbit- Reinhart’s mother on Riverdale is played by Mädchen Amick, who also has an arrow tattoo.
Their tattoos are, in fact, in the exact same place and applied by the same artist.
Amick’s tattoo is to symbolize her zodiac sign, Sagittarius.
Anthony “Ant” McPartlin
Across the pond from Lili Reinhart, this British presenter also has an arrow tattooed on his forearm.
Fans were surprised to see the star tatted up after returning to television in 2019 after a stint in rehab.
He has never been one to shy away from exposing his inner demons, and has other tattoos that mark his desire to stay sober.
When asked about the arrow tattoo, McPartlin has said only that it has a very positive and personal meaning.
One wonders if he is following the same philosophy as Reinhart: seeing his time away from the spotlight as a way to move forward with momentum.
Frances Bean Cobain
So nice she did it twice.
This graphic artist, known for being the daughter of Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love, has 2 tattoos with an arrow motif.
Cobain’s tattoos are all different styles, but she sticks to small designs in classic black and grey.
Crossed arrows on her upper arm: Crossed arrows can be a sign of allegiance, so they make a popular friendship tattoo.
Frances Bean got hers in 2016 while on a trip to Vegas for her 24th birthday.
Her friends also got inked and the gang took in a Britney Spears show.
Is there any better way to celebrate turning the big 2-4?
Intricate sick and poke on her wrist: The delicate arrow design on Cobain’s wrist is a little more esoteric.
The stick and poke tattoo, applied by L.A. artist Tati Compton, has an air of sacred geometry to it.
Compton’s images tend to conjure feelings of divine femininity and sacred sexuality.
With Cobain’s Instagram handle being @thespacewitch- maybe there is some occult symbolism behind the design, but neither artist nor canvas has spoken of it.
That’s the beauty of a great tattoo- the meaning can stay between you and your artist.
Another Dr. Woo design, this multifaceted actress decided to pay tribute to her son Xander with a light arrow tattoo on her forearm.
The piece features overlapping circles, their birth-dates, and an arrow moving through the middle of them both.
This symbolizes their separate timelines, and how their love/familial bond has tied them together.
Stephanie Branco and Sarah Hyland
In 2015, Modern Family’s Sarah Hyland and comedian/actress Stephanie Branco got coordinating arrow tattoos.
The deed was done at West Hollywood’s Shamrock Social Club with artist Max Hanson.
The two arrow designs are different, and in different places on the young women’s bodies.
Hyland’s design is a thin, delicate arrow with a large fletching on the end.
The design runs up the petite actress’s spine, presumably so she could be discreet on her sitcom gig.
Branco’s tattoo is more visible, just above her wrist.
Her design features an eye in the center of her arrow’s shaft.
Not much has been said about the symbolism behind the tattoos, but maybe it was more about the friendly escapade than the designs themselves.
Arrow Mythology and Folklore
The arrow is a figure that appears in many myths.
Ancient civilizations couldn’t just pop over to the grocery store, so a person with hunting skills was essential to the community.
Even in many corners of the world today, hunters provide quality sustainable goods while keeping a healthy balance in the ecosystem around them.
And it’s not only for food: a good hunter will provide furs, leathers, and bone to fashion tools that serve their community.
Because hunters were so essential to the groups that wrote some of our greatest stories, the arrow features prominently in folklore from around the world.
What Does Arrows Symbolize in Native American Tribes?
Arrow designs are often associated with Native American tribes.
Because many ancient Indigenous peoples were known for their keen hunting skills and relationship with nature, there is a common association between these peoples and the bow & arrow.
Before moving forward, it is important to know two things:
One, there are many varied Native American tribes, also known as Indigenous or First Nations peoples.
Two, these peoples are still alive and practicing traditions from their culture today.
Many articles speak as if “Native American” is one type of person, and that they are an ancient race who no longer exist today.
Both of these assumptions are false.
There are some overarching themes when it comes to Native American symbolism and arrows.
But you may see variations in each tribe.
For example, the Lakota tribe in South Dakota has Joseph Marshall III, a medicine man and archer among other things.
Marshall III passes on Lakota teachings about the bow and arrow to the community.
One of these teachings is on the bow and arrow as a metaphor for life.
In this teaching, the bow represents lunar feminine energy while the arrow represents solar masculine energy.
The bow and arrow are gifts from the moon and sun respectively, and work in tandem with each other.
Each is a powerful instrument, but they need each other to accomplish their goal.
This is a metaphor for life, for working with opposite parts of yourself, for collaborating with your community, and for honoring both masculine and feminine energy.
Some common arrow tattoo designs associated with Native American tribes are:
- An arrow tattoo facing left: ward off evil
- An arrow tattoo facing right: protection
- An arrow tattoo facing down: peace
- A broken arrow tattoo: peace, settling a feud
- A crossed arrow tattoo: an allyship
- An arrowhead: focus, staying alert
Native American Arrow Tattoos
Arrow Symbolism in Greek Mythology
Greek mythology is full of skilled archers- no one goes hungry or cold on Zeus’s watch!
Unless they deserve it.
At any rate, if you’ve been looking for a mystical arrow tattoo motif, you may find some inspiration in the folklore of the ancient Greeks.
There are any number of archery experts on Mount Olympus, including:
The origins of this mischievous winged matchmaker are a little more erotic than our current cherubic vision of this Greek god.
In Greek mythology, Cupid is the son of Aphrodite, the goddess of love, and Hermes, the messenger of the gods.
It would only make sense then, that by their powers combined he would become a winged agent of love, spreading lusty vibes wherever he goes.
Cupid in his original form is a bit of a hunky heart-breaker, with god-like good looks and a cheeky attitude.
He would often use his magical arrows to make people fall in love, but he also had lead arrows to make people repulsed by each other.
Sometimes, he would mix the two just to watch the resulting chaos.
Have you ever had an unrequited love so strong you couldn’t explain it?
Maybe this mischievous deity was behind it.
In any case, a golden arrow is sure to catch the eyes (and maybe pierce the hearts) of everyone you meet!
Artemis is the goddess of the hunt, of wild animals & fertile lands, of chastity and childbirth.
Her Roman equivalent is Diana, who the Wonder Woman comics are named for.
Artemis is one of the most celebrated Greek Goddesses.
Some people today practice what is known as “Dianic Witchcraft”- a spiritual practice centered around female energy and imagery.
Artemis and Diana are intrinsically linked with feminism, and a woman’s right to have control over her body.
In tattoos, it is the bow and arrow that makes this goddess recognizable.
She is seen as an ideal for hunters and those who live off the land: while she hunts animals, she has a deep respect for and connection with nature/living things.
As Artemis’s twin brother, Apollo is no slouch when it comes to archery.
If you are looking for a more masculine symbol for your bow and arrow tattoo, he would be a good choice.
Or you could depict both siblings in a pretty epic back piece!
They both have associations with wild animals, especially deer.
Apollo is associated with many things, most importantly the sun, medicine, and intelligence.
He is generous with his knowledge, sharing his healing abilities with mortals.
He is known to be loyal to the truth, something the Greek oracles awarded with psychic abilities.
Though Apollo sounds pretty benevolent, don’t get on his bad side.
Just as easily as he can heal you, he can infect you with a disease.
An Apollo tattoo would be well suited to a person in the medical field, especially natural medicine.
Symbolism of Arrows in Hinduism
If you are looking for a Hindu deity who doesn’t get much attention in artwork, Rudra is one of the less common, but no less interesting, gods in the faith system.
He is an expert archer, usually depicted with his trusty bow and arrow, sometimes on a chariot.
He is the father to “The Rudras’ ‘ or “Maruts,” a group of storm gods in Hinduism.
Like Apollo, Rudra is associated with both healing and disease.
He can be prayed to for healing, but he is known to be the personification of terror.
His arrows can inflict disease on people, animals, and even divine beings.
So, while he’d make a pretty bad-ass tattoo, it’s probably best to have a background in the Hindu faith before calling on this god willy-nilly.
Arrows In The Zodiac/Astrology
As we’ve mentioned earlier, the astrological sign Sagittarius: This zodiac sign is named for a constellation in the Milky Way Galaxy, represented by a Centaur holding a bow and arrow.
The corresponding myth is Chiron, the wounded healer.
Chiron was an immortal centaur who was wounded by one of Hercules’s poison bows.
Because he was immortal, he could not die from the arrow but was in a great deal of pain.
Taking pity on the Centaur, Zeus made him into a constellation where he could live an immortal, pain-free existence in the sky.
The Sagittarius in the zodiac is a fire sign.
It is characterized by an outgoing nature, a masculine boldness (regardless of gender), and emotional intelligence.
If you were born under this sign, celebrate it with an arrow tattoo!
Sagittarius Arrow Tattoos
Arrow Tattoos In Pop Culture
So, in Mythology, arrows can take on many meanings.
Keep that in mind when you’re considering what kind of arrow tattoo you might like, and in what style.
But what about modern mythology?
Many pop-culture heroes have their own trusty arrows and have made their mark on the symbolism behind the image.
The Hunger Games
In The Hunger Games book and movie series, Katniss Everdeen is thrust into a world where the rich watch the poor hunt each other for entertainment.
Katniss is a keen hunter, and overall bad-ass lead.
One scene in the very first book/movie perfectly sets up Katniss’s attitude toward the powers that be.
She is meant to show off her archery skills to the producers of the show, who dismiss her when she misses the mark.
But Katniss wasn’t a bad archer, she just wasn’t used to the equipment they used at the Capitol.
When the producers turn their backs on her, she gets their attention by firing an arrow straight through the apple in their roasting pig’s mouth.
This started the group, and symbolizes the dynamic of the story: they watch the less fortunate in judgment while eating elaborate meals.
But sometimes the less fortunate surprise them.
An arrow tattoo would be perfect for a fan of The Hunger Games as it symbolizes having keen skills, and not being afraid to rebel against a corrupt system.
Lord of The Rings
“He was as tall as a young tree, lithe, immensely strong, able swiftly to draw a great war-bow and shoot down a Nazgûl, endowed with the tremendous vitality of Elvish bodies, so hard and resistant to hurt that he went only in light shoes over rock or through snow, the most tireless of all the Fellowship.“
—J.R.R. Tolkien, an excerpt about Legolas
After the Lord of the Rings movie franchise re-invigorated interest in the books by J.R.R. Tolkien, Legolas became something of a fan favorite.
And that’s not just because he was portrayed by the handsome Orlando Bloom.
Legolas is a bad-ass, an excellent addition to the ragtag crew as they go about their journey.
Not only is Legolas an expert archer, he has keen eyes, night vision, can sleep while walking, and understands the forest better than any other creature.
Are you looking to pay homage to your favorite LOTR character, or maybe capture some Elvish qualities for yourself?
A portrait tattoo featuring Legolas with his bow and arrow would be an especially powerful design.
This rebellious folk hero is made famous for stealing from the rich and giving to the poor.
He has been the subject of countless songs, stories, movies, and books, even though no one is sure if he even existed.
One common theme in all his incarnations is that Robin Hood is an expert archer.
Similar to Katness Everdeen, a Robin Hood’s arrow tattoo would symbolize rebellion against a classism regime.
Common Themes in Arrow Tattoos
So, all this talk of archery has you thinking you’d like an arrow tattoo.
But where to begin?
There are so many amazing designs to choose from.
We have combed the internet and found some of our favorite designs.
Broken Arrow Tattoos
Broken arrow tattoos are a symbol of peace, similar to burying the hatchet.
You’ve laid down your weapons, and want to move forward from a feud.
A great tattoo for a new chapter.
An arrowhead tattoo symbolize a sense of focus and alertness, keeping your eyes on the prize.
Bow and Arrow Tattoo
The bow and arrow tattoo could be a symbol of your favorite archer from mythology/pop culture.
It’s also a popular symbol for our Sagittarius friends.
Drawing from the Lakota teachings, this may be a nice way to symbolize two opposite factors coming together to achieve a goal- maybe a business partnership.
A bow and arrow tattoo could also be a symbol for someone who identifies as two-spirited within the Indigenous community.
Arrow Bundle Tattoos
An arrow bundle tattoo means you’re locked and loaded, ready for any battle or obstacle that comes your way.
Compass with Arrow Tattoos
In this context, compass tattoos represent the material plane, everything tangible and concrete.
It is a popular motif to have an arrow run through a clock, a compass, or sometimes both.
A compass with an arrow tattoo could symbolize the ability to transcend time and space, and therefore the limitations you’ve put on yourself.
Arrow & Moon Tattoos
A crescent moon, like a bow, is an inherently feminine image.
An arrow and moon tattoo represents the divine masculine and feminine coming together.
It may also represent a deep connection to nature.
Feather Arrow Tattoos
The goal in archery is to be light and quick, undetectable and stealthy.
A feather tattoo symbolizes lightness while an arrow tattoo symbolizes precision.
A feather arrow tattoo would be an excellent tattoo for an archer, or athlete who relies on nimble reflexes.
Flowers & Arrow Tattoos
Another masc/femme image, a flower arrow tattoo is an image that speaks to maintaining a balance between soft/vulnerable and keen/fierce.
Arrows in Animal Heads Tattoos
A popular traditional tattoo design, this can symbolize dominance over foes.
It could also be a symbol for a hunter who is proud of their abilities.
It is generally agreed among tattoo enthusiasts, however, that it is simply bad-ass to put an arrow or dagger through anything.
Lettering Arrow Tattoos
Arrow Tattoos with Name
Family Arrow Tattoos
Faith Arrow Tattoos
Heart & Arrow Tattoos
Crossed Arrow Tattoos
Infinity Arrow Tattoos
Semicolon Arrow Tattoos
Morse Code Arrow Tattoos
Arrow Tattoo Designs
An arrow tattoo design is versatile, beautiful, and bad-ass.
Have we armed you with enough ideas for your next piece?
Check out our arrow tattoo gallery for some designs that are right on target!
Black-work Arrow Tattoos
Fine Line Arrow Tattoos
Illustrative Arrow Tattoos
Abstract Arrow Tattoos
Sketchy Arrow Tattoos
Stick & Poke Arrow Tattoos
Watercolor Arrow Tattoos
Dot-work Arrow Tattoos
Neo-traditional Arrow Tattoos
Geometric Arrow Tattoos
Celtic Arrow Tattoo
Arrow Tattoo Ideas
Simple Arrow Tattoos
Small Arrow Tattoos
Bracelet Arrow Tattoos
Boho Arrow Tattoos
3 Arrows Tattoos
5 Arrows Tattoos
Arrow Tattoo Placement
Arrow Tattoos on Finger
Arrow Tattoos on Forearm
Arrow Tattoos on Wrist
Arrow Tattoos on Foot
Arrow Tattoos on Ribs
Arrow Tattoos on Arm